Monthly Archive for March, 2008

talk to allard..



any minute now, William Albert Allard will walk through my door….i have not asked him, but i will put him on the spot with any of you who happen to be "on" right now….he will probably be here for a couple of hours  or so…since his name comes up quite a bit here, most recently on the previous post, i thought you might enjoy having a word with him…so ask the boy a question or two…i will try to keep him here as long as possible…..

no place to live, everyplace to go….

i have managed to convince many people over the years that i am a photographer….but actually, truth be told,  i am more of  a "born again" beach bum…i mostly grew up (figuratively speaking) at the beach….my darkroom was set up in a  back room of the family garage, but i often succumbed to the vagaries of being the luckiest kid in the world to live at the beach….body surfing every frisbee throwing summer day at 14, finally gave way to selling plastic viewer pictures to sunburned tourists on the beach at 19, to help pay for college, but mostly  for the primary and primal purpose of meeting girls….

on sunday i will travel to the beach….i will go alone and  to a beach i have never been….i have no friends in this new land….my first  trip to a "new island" of blue water and palm trees , just seems like the right thing to do …it is cold and windy in New York… i also need my own space for a few days…for the last two months i have either been teaching workshops or otherwise engaged in group activities…with almost no time alone… i have a very nice room in a very nice apartment as a guest of  two very good friends…two friends whose hospitality knows no bounds, but  two friends who are married and would, i am sure, like to have some "space" of their own….

besides, i need a little vacation anyway….last week i sold my apartment in Washington (national capital) which i had owned for almost 20 years….i have no idea where i will reinvest…, i literally have no ties, no home, no material attachments of any kind, and am burning burning to get out and photograph on my new project…i am so so psyched for what i see as perhaps the most important essay of my life…..but i must wait until the first week of april to get going….so now i will just sit on the beach, collect  my breath, meditate on the upcoming work, mull over the idea i have for YOU, catch up on some reading, think things over,  or maybe not think at all….create a "calm" before i create the "creative storm"….

we are all "wired" so differently…we all use different methods to clear our heads  before lunging into the fray…i seem to get the most energy going when i pare things down to what may seem to others like "nothing"…..which is , in a Zen way, "everything"….i felt just like this way back in 1989 when i "caught on fire" for what eventually was to become the work in Divided Soul  ..ironically,  i was "homeless" (divorced) then too,  and literally sleeping on an office floor at  National Geographic….but, this seminal  work led to becoming a Magnum nominee by 1993….so, i know THE FEELING.. "the feeling" gets me out of bed in the morning with the "juices" flowing KNOWING i am "on to something"….now is such a time….

so, my question to you  is, do you KNOW "avant" when you are about to "launch" or is it a pleasant SURPRISE  when you see the  "result"  of something you have just  "done" ??


late nite movie

i have added a "Movies" section on my home page…i will try to have a little library of short films on photographers and by photographers soonest….i  only had one in hand to start this off… it is a short produced by Natgeo…this is a 6 minute version of  a one hour production on yours truly working in Brazil…

if you have not seen it, go get some popcorn and beer..  the 50mb file  will be about a 5 minute download for most…if this puts you to sleep , then maybe i have done my job for the day!!

of perhaps more interest, there is new work being posted later  this evening of some of your colleagues as yet unseen here under the Emerging Photographers section…both as essays and a few more singles…i think you will appreciate this new work and there is even  more to come…it has taken us awhile to get all the space we need for this section..

please  do not forget that some of your work,  now featured here,  will be exhibited in June at the Virginia  Festival of  the Photograph (Look 3…see link),  and hopefully at Visa Pour L’Image (Perpignan) this fall…stay tuned….

northern lights….



as you may already  know, i have just been on a three week workshop "marathon" taking me from Mexico to Norway…i am used to "changes in latitude", but this was particularly extreme…the one thing common to both "extremes" was good old fashioned hospitality with both cultures vying for the title of "friendliest"…i will not choose…i cannot choose….

the above "group shot" ( by Kim Nygård) is a loose assemblage of our Magnum crowd in Oslo during our workshop/seminar final evening (or , was it the night before?)….sorry, but my memory is not one of the by-products of cultural  hospitality!!….in any case, since it is no small task just to gather our disparate  group of photogs for a lunch meeting, it is a minor miracle that so many showed up in Oslo to spend time with emerging photographers who came from all over the world….this was  our first attempt at a group Magnum workshop…hopefully, what happened in Oslo will not stay in Oslo…

Alessandra Sanguinetti, Jacob Sobol, Chris Anderson, Alex and Rebecca Webb, Paolo Pellegrin, Chien Chi-Chang, Richard Kalvar, Chris Steele-Perkins, Jonas Bendiksen, and yours truly, all either taught one week workshops or gave an evening lecture…Jonas and his lovely bride Laara (above left center) made all of this "happen" for us..the Norwegian Press Photographers Association was our host…the Bilder Nordic School of Photography lent us their classrooms….many many thanks to all ….

one of the "surprises" for those of us who came from Magnum, was how much we were "sparked" by seeing each other’s work presented in such an open forum…of course, we know the photographs and the books..but, all of us commented on the pleasure of seeing each other’s  presentations…to find out things we did not even know about individual motivations and purpose…we all make presentations from time to time, but usually not in front of each other….so, we learned as much as our "students"….often, when we are gathered , we are weathering long sleepy business meetings…totally necessary, but not creatively enlightening…

now, certainly our only reason for being in Oslo was to view and critique and encourage and celebrate  the work of  emerging photographers who came for our workshop….to help them develop essays and stories and to move them "forward"  in a way that made sense for each of them as "authors"….you will see the work from many of these photographers published here under "Student Work.." as soon as i can get my hands on it…

but for the moment, i am only showing you this "group shot"…..and "group shots" are definitely  a phenomenon in and of themselves…whenever serious photographers are gathered, and the kind of serious photographers who would normally not be caught dead taking a "group shot" , someone always wants to take one!!!  at every National Geographic gathering, or Magnum gathering or any gathering of photo  "professionals" , in the aura of event "grand finale" we inevitably take a "group shot"….as a matter of fact, with all of the really incisive pictures coming in from my students each week during a workshop, one of the "musts" is a  "group shot" of our class….

why do you think all of us seem to  love "group shots"??  is it because just "remembering something special" is still  the ultimate reward of photography??  or, is it just simple "evidence"  or "proof" that we were actually all together at one time, in one place???


one ring circus….



a few days ago i hung around "backstage" for about an hour at a small circus in Oaxaca…the ring master, trapeze artists, lion tamers, dancers, etc etc , live on the road…traveling in  small truck pulled  trailers going from town to town entertaining mostly children who love the "wild animals", death-defying high bar acts, and the often sad clowns who make them laugh….pure and simple entertainment is their business…

we have chatted a lot lately about being creative  "on the road" or drawing energy from familiar surroundings….obviously, different  strokes for different folks….whatever works, works….but, i am really interested in how you see your  work itself…the "function" of the work….the purpose…

the young woman above, about to go "on stage", is a performer…a bareback rider …her skill is clearly "performance art"….she uses her costume, horse and  her body to entertain…some photographs are intended to communicate an idea or to journalistically portray an "event", some to show a physical place, some to explore  the "inner mind" of the photographer and some falling into the category of "performance"  itself..i.e. Cindy Sherman or Gregory Crewdson…

how do you see your own work?  does your work  communicate an idea, show what a place or person "looks like" or  do you see your photographs as living representations, or even as "objects" in and of themselves…. perhaps even becoming "pure entertainment" ?